By: Lucas Kochevar
The Rams Road to Repeating
The Los Angeles Rams are two months removed from winning their first Super Bowl since moving back to LA. The 2021 season treated them well, however, it was quite a road to get there. They started off hot and the trade for Matthew Stafford looked like a home run, but they fell on hard times while losing three straight games. They quickly rebounded and found themselves winning the tough NFC West. In the playoffs, they blew out Arizona, won a thriller in Tampa Bay, and won a close one against San Francisco to advance to the big game. Playing the Super Bowl in their home stadium, the Rams beat the Bengals after a dominant performance from Aaron Donald. Now, the Rams look to do the hard task of repeating, a feat that hasn't been completed since 04'-05' with the early version of the Patriots.
First things first, the Rams don't have a pick in the first round since they 've traded nearly all of them to construct the team they have today. No draft stuff to worry about regarding them. With their off-season, I think they've had more key losses and it'll be hard to replace the production. They did do a solid job of scanning the market for guys to try and replace that production. Below is the notable gains and losses:
-LT Joseph Noteboom
-C Brian Allen
-WR Allen Robinson
-LB Bobby Wagner
-LB Von Miller (Signed with BUF)
-LT Andrew Whitworth (Retirement)
-CB Darious Williams (Signed with JAX)
-OG Austin Corbett (Signed with CAR)
-WR Robert Woods (Traded to TEN)
-P Johnny Hekker (Cut)
There are also some guys that are still floating around in free agency like WR Odell Beckham Jr., who is recovering from a torn ACL in the Super Bowl, and RB Sony Michel. Another big move they did was extend Matthew Stafford for another four years, which likely means he'll end his career with the Rams. They are also looking for new deals with DT Aaron Donald and WR Cooper Kupp. Both players are looking to up their price tag after having fantastic seasons.
I think the signing of Joseph Noteboom will be the most important transaction they did this off-season. The franchise's left tackle position was by far the most consistent ever since future Hall of Famer Andrew Whitworth arrived, but with him retiring as a champ, they will have to bring in this unknown player to match Whit's production. I will be curious to see if he can come in and fit the scheme that Sean McVay runs. They also have to replace OG Austin Corbett as he signed elsewhere. There are bigger names in that 'Lost' list than a couple of linemen, but after watching the Falcons try and replace offensive linemen for the past six years, I understand it's not easy and there aren't a ton of good ones in the league as a whole. It's the most important position group on offense by a large margin, if you don't count the quarterback.
Outside of Noteboom, the biggest signing the Rams made was LB Bobby Wagner. The former Seahawks defender finds himself on the division rival after Seattle cut him. Truthfully, Wagner isn't quite as spry as he once was, however, his production doesn't seem to be much worse than it was in his early prime years. He's been selected to the pro bowl every year since 2014! As I'm writing this and researching how he's been playing, I cannot believe the Seahawks released him. The Rams now have perhaps the best defender in the league at every level of the defense. The D-Line has Aaron Donald, the LB group has Wagner, and the secondary has CB Jalen Ramsey. A truly absurd trio of players to have on one team. The Rams also lost Von Miller to the Bills. Miller was a vital part of their pass rush down the stretch, but they are really banking on Leonard Floyd to improve and fill in for his production
The wide receiver room also sees some movement for the Rams. The biggest loss they'll have will be OBJ in my opinion. As I stated, he hasn't signed anywhere, but he will still likely be out for the year with his injury. The Rams also said bye to long time receiver Robert Woods. He signed with them years ago, but leaves after a disappointing season, where he also tore his ACL. The Titans look to pair him with A.J. Brown and it should form a solid duo. The way that the Rams are making up for these losses is by signing Allen Robinson away from the Bears. Robinson has turned in some really good years here and there, but without a consistent QB and a bad coach, he hasn't lived up to his potential. He also struggled with nagging injuries throughout last season. I think getting him with Stafford and McVay is the best thing to happen for him. Copper Kupp drawing all the attention should also help out Robinson. The offense should keep moving well, as long as the line holds up.
Lastly, the Rams schedule is pretty tough, but they are blessed with playing the NFC South, where the Buccaneers are the only real threat. They also get to play the rebuilding Seahawks twice a year. The rest of the division should still be a challenge. The 49ers have to figure out the Deebo Samuel situation, but they still have a ton of talent and they are extremely well-coached. The Cardinals also have a weird situation with Kyler Murray but, if he's still there, they should be a threat. The Rams do have to play the AFC West with the Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos, and Raiders. This division is loaded now with old foe Russell Wilson in Denver. The Rams out of division random games are big time challenges too as they play the Packers, Bills, and Cowboys. The dates are still TBD, but a lot of these teams can be playoff contenders. My final verdict is the Rams will not be able to repeat. They have a number of tough games and I don't think the team chemistry will be developed enough this year with all the player movement they're seeing. Repeating is one of the hardest things to do in sports so there's no shame in not accomplishing this feat and they should still celebrate their Super Bowl win.
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